Councillor Steve Smith and Councillor Andrew Varney were elected as the next Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Bristol at the annual general meeting of Full Council today (Tuesday, 25 May, 2021).
Councillor Smith (Conservative, Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze) and Brislington West representative Councillor Varney (Liberal Democrat) were sworn in during short ceremonies at the meeting, replacing Councillors Jos Clark (Liberal Democrat) and Carole Johnson (Labour) respectively. Their positions in office will last for one year and start with immediate effect.
The Lord Mayoralty traditionally rotates between the party groups on the city council but in a change to the usual practice due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Councillor Clark was nominated to stand for another year. The Labour Group had been due to hold the position last year but instead agreed to nominate a Deputy Lord Mayor, with Councillor Johnson replacing Councillor Cleo Lake, and defer its next Lord Mayor until 2023-24.
Bristol has had a Lord Mayor since 1899, when Queen Victoria granted the honour during her visit to the city in that year, knighting Herbert Ashman, who was Mayor of Bristol at the time.
Following confirmation of his appointment, Councillor Smith said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have been asked to become Bristol’s Lord Mayor and First Citizen. It’s a huge honour to join a line which stretches back through over 800 years of Mayors and Lord Mayors of our city.
“One of the joys of being a Councillor is that I’ve learned a huge amount about the ward that I represent, it’s history, people and organisations. I hope during my year as Lord Mayor that I can extend that learning across the whole city by meeting as many people and groups as I possibly can in every part of Bristol.
“I want to use my time as Lord Mayor to shine a light on volunteers across Bristol and thank them for the incredible work that they do to make our city a better place. From vaccine marshals to custody visitors, scout leaders to litter pickers, thousands of people give their time freely to serve others with no expectation of reward, simply the knowledge that they are doing a good thing.
“This has never been more true than during the pandemic and I look forward to thanking as many volunteers as possible on behalf of the whole city for the amazing service that they give."
Today’s meeting also confirmed the make-up of a number of council committees, most of which will have three Labour and three Green representatives on each, as well as two Conservative members and one from the Liberal Democrats.
Green members will chair the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (Councillor Carla Denyer), Communities Scrutiny Commission (Councillor Martin Fodor), Growth & Regeneration Scrutiny Commission (Councillor David Willcox), Development Control Committee B (Councillor Ani Stafford-Townsend), Public Rights of Way and Greens Committee (Councillor Tessa Fitzjohn), Public Safety & Protection Committee Cllr (Guy Poultney) and Human Resources (Councillor Tim Wye)
The Resources Scrutiny Commission (Cllr Geoffrey Gollop), Health Sub Committee of the People Scrutiny Commission (Cllr Graham Morris) and Development Control Committee A (Cllr Richard Eddy) will have Conservative chairs.
Councillor Marley Bennett (Labour), Councillor Gary Hopkins (Liberal Democrat) and Councillor Tim Kent (Liberal Democrat) will chair the Licensing Committee, Audit Committee and People Scrutiny Commission respectively.